You are too focused on the surface level, what women are wearing, but that's just a symptom. Femininity expresses itself in different ways due to cultural norms, but that doesn't mean femininity isn't an underlying constant. Off course in a society where female sexuality is extremely taboo, feminity expresses itself publicly in the opposite way compared to societies where this is not the case. Furthermore, there are second class citicens in the Middle East that have it much worse than women in the Middle East. I'd rather take care of children and be confined to housework, than work myself to death with physical labor as a slave for someone of higher social class. Especially if you compare the lives and privileges of higher class females with lower class males in a country like Saudi-Arabia, there's no question how much more privileged the women are.
I understand the point you're making here, but weighing oppressed groups in a regime against each other and proposing which one has it worse off is counter-intuitive. For the purpose of unity in action against cultural norms wherein any valid group is being treated unfairly, you should not act holier than thou when someone brings up a group you don't think is being oppressed enough. Beyond that, oppression of women in places like Saudi Arabia isn't "surface level"-- there is a clear aspect of society that devalues womanhood in these areas, hence the proliferation violence against them, and subjugation of them.
If we're born with a certain sexuality is it so out of the question we're probably also born with gendered attributes attributing to biology as well[?]
We aren't born with any gendered attributes, no. Our biology, at the time of birth, relates directly to the sex of which we are; that is, we are defined by our sex at birth. However, sex only covers such as the following: chromosomes, gonads, internal reproductive organs, external genitalia, etc. These traits don't determine our gender. The reason for this is because gender is not the physical product of who we are through genitalia or chromosomes, but rather the direct response those features garner from wider society. So, let's word this more clearly in case there is confusion: gender is the response to biological sex; it is not your biological sex. It is heavily related to biological sex, but it is not the direct correlation of it. Were the latter true, we would not have gender dysmorphia (GID) or transsexualism. Something to note here is that the existence of such groups as valid and not suffering from mental illness is debated or rejected outright by certain institutions.
To clarify further, gender is the frame which refers to biological sex both on an individual and interpersonal level. In wider society, gender is the "attitudes, feelings, and behaviors that a given culture associates with a person’s biological sex." In other words, gender is defined as the response by which we act in accordance to sex. I want to reiterate once more: gender and sex are different.
There have been studies done on 1 day old babies where they're shown different things and there are clear patterns where males and females react differently. Baby girls look at pictures of faces longer for example and boys look at mechanical things for longer.
One thing that's sometimes brought up when discussing this is the idea that "gay" wasn't really a thing hundreds of years ago like it is today. So was that because back then there was roughly the same percentage as today that was attracted to the same sex, but they just didn't act on it or admit it to anyone from fear of persecution? Or was there really just less proportion of the population that was attracted to the same sex? I personally think it was the 2nd one.
So, this isn't a surprise: notions of gender shift as society changes. Ideas about sexuality are dynamic through history. We can look at areas within China leading into modernity wherein there existed a positive notion of male-male relationships. Leading up to the time of Spanish colonization of the Americas, there were first-hand accounts of natives engaging in homosexual acts--this, of course, garnered the hostility of conquering Europeans. More specifically, Andean societies had a notion of a "third gender" which complemented the male-female ideal in rituals and observations of sexuality. Conversely, there is a history of repression of homosexual or transgender acts (though this is more obvious, isn't it?). There has been a long conflict in Christianity and Christian cultures re: acceptance of homosexual acts. Further, Abrahamic faith has, since the time of the Torah's conception, condemned the practice of sodomy, as well as... cross-dressing. In other words, there exists no consensus through the ages on things like homosexuality or transgenderism.
It is of note to clarify that these concepts were treated as though they were individual acts, though. Until very recently, the idea that one was heterosexual or homosexual was not how sexual orientation was conceived--though that is not because of a lack of evidence pertaining to the existence of homosexuality. Make no mistake, it's been around for a long, long time. There is a trove of evidence pertaining to its proliferation, repression, and existence. However, we shouldn't be anachronistic when describing these phenomenon. As stated above, gender is dynamic, and the vocabulary and paradigms we use now were not always present.
If women do something it's wrong and degrading, unless men start doing it, then it's amazing. This has happened recently with cooking.
I'd just like to say it really does go both ways. Men being stay at home dads, caretakers, primary school teachers, etc. is often seen as kinda "unmanly" and most defiantly not amazing. Whereas when women go into fields like engineering, hard sciences, etc. it's almost seen as "cool".
In many ways female masculinity is much more socially accepted than male femininity .
There is a nuance to how contemporary Americans view gender roles, yes. This comes at the cost of being in a transitional period wherein long-accepted ideas about sex and gender identity are being challenged. The sexual revolution in the 60s dusted up a frenzy. Proceeding movements continued to go against traditional ideals. The fact that this is a generational movement makes it even more complicated.
However, this does not mean that, "it goes both ways" w/r/t transgression of gender roles. There is still a blatant institutional and cultural bias in effect against women, and these concessions within our culture (see: the concept of tomboys) is in no way the actual progression of equal rights. In fact, the term 'tomboy' itself has at-once been used affectionately and derogatorily. The narrative that women are somehow seen as "cool" for entering traditionally male-dominated professions like engineering is also spurious: engineering is a field in which women are the most underrepresented in the United States. There are multiple reasons for this. Nonetheless, women continue to remain underrepresented in post-grad engineering, and the societal pressure to hire on more women engineers in the workforce has been more due to reaction of the perceived stigmatization of them, rather than an organic preference (and is somewhat irrelevant given that women are still in the low-end on completion of degrees in engineering--despite completing degrees on a higher average than men, in general).
I want to address your other point, though. The complaint you have about the limited acceptance of male femininity v. female masculinity ties back into the wider perspective that American society has toward both groups. This issue you bring up--the current perspective of manhood and being manly--is a result of the same societal function which leads to the objectification of women. Our society holds disproportionate views on men and women which are hyper-critical of divergence from gender roles. This results in the tension of feminine men being seen as lesser (this being the specific group whose conflict you are aware of). However, this also results in women being seen as sex objects in the workforce. It is what determines our preference for beefy men on billboards and bikini-clad women in burger commercials. It is the runaway effect of a particular set of views on human sexuality in tension with another. The thing to take away from this is that ignoring any one aspect of this inequity will not lead to progress on any one other. That there exists this disconnect in society re: what gender should be with what it actually is--this is part of the reason things like feminism exist, at all.
I don't think gender is a social construct because that suggests it's something artificial that some people just came up with and then we just adhere to it because people/society say that's how it should be. I think it's actually very heavily rooted in biology and is a completely natural thing. It's a biological construct not a social one. By whom is it understood that it's a social construct?
Social constructs are not something that are "just c[o]me up with." Rather, they are a joint understanding of value systems and reality expressed by societies over the course of generations, communicated through language, and reinforced through rationalization. It is misleading to shrug the idea of a social construction off as something "just made-up," and it is also incorrect to say that they are unnatural. They exist as a result of the natural interactions of humans through time, and their distinction as specifically social rather than biological functions is necessary because they are primarily developed through our social facilitation. That is to say, there is nothing artificial about what social constructs are. As to who understands gender as a social construct, this is in line with Encyclopedia.com's definition of the term. This site uses Oxford University Press and Columbia Encyclopedia as references. It is also commonly accepted in social psychology.
There's also this thinking that people are born straight, gay, bi, etc.
I don't think anyone is actually born gay, I think it's just something that kinda develops but obviously with some people they're much more predisposed one way or the other, and I think environment can be a big factor.
So, at present, this is actually one of the more interesting aspects of sexuality: sexual orientation. More specifically, how sexual orientation develops over the course of one's life, and whether it is something that is static and determined at birth, perhaps variable and dependent on adolescent upbringing, or something else altogether.
Psychologists have been dolling out scales and continuum in recent decades in response to traditional binary perspectives on sexuality (the Kinsey Scale being perhaps the most popular thanks to its propagation on the Internet--though it is by no means the only way to illustrate how sexuality relates). If we want to get more personal, I think there is something to the idea that most people are not bound to a purely hetero- or homo- orientation. It is clear through the way people communicate ideas about attraction--from the first romantic poem all the way to the latest Tinder messages--that this is a topic which is oftentimes more complex, and less understood, than we think. I'm not sure I can make meaningful statements on romance and attraction other than by saying they seem to be immensely personal, almost non-communicable (isn't that the issue with so many ill-fated relationships?) aspects of our lives.
Anyway, there is insufficient evidence to validate whether upbringing plays a role in sexual orientation.
One interesting development in recent pediatric practice is the inclusion of awareness on informing children of sexual identities and orientation at earlier ages. For a number of reasons, the reality of sexual orientations are more apparent to children than they were before. As a result, there needs to be a way to communicate "factual, current, nonjudgmental information in a confidential manner." While we're getting personal, I think this is a fantastic idea. I know my own adolescence in the Midwest was profoundly affected by the social norms present. I was unable to fully communicate or even understand certain realities about myself. This was due, in no small part, to the rigid, abstinence-enforced, don't-talk-about-it mentality that was prevalent in the community of which I was a part. American society has always had an odd perspective on sexuality and how to approach it as a topic around children. I think it's great that we are beginning to better understand how to talk about these things with our children. Maybe there won't be so much trauma for children who aren't hetero-normative in ten years.
1 -- Though there is a wide sphere of interpretation of the ancient texts, and I'd argue offshoots of Judaism don't follow the Law in any way recognizable to its original intention, thus invalidating their defense of certain transgressive sexual acts with the Torah itself. Maybe at the moment it is worth pointing out that Jews are among the strongest supporters of LGBT rights in the U.S. today. As a further aside, those aforementioned contradictions in reference and logic are not a negation of actions or an attempt to feel morally superior: societies have, as a whole, operated with varying degrees of dissonant logic since their dawn. It is one of the few universal things about us. We are good at misunderstanding ourselves, especially given enough time and ambiguity.
Apologies for any improper attributions or any poor wording.